The connected smart home of the future is not something that will arrive all at once. It will slowly arrive, piece by piece, your house getting “smarter” with each upgrade. Several of these pieces of the puzzle are already readily available today, including internet-connected security cameras, lights, thermostats, air quality and moisture sensors, smart plugs, and motion sensors. The connected smart home is something I am very much looking forward to, so when the fine folks at D-Link offered to send me two of these items for review – their D-Link WiFi Smart Plug and Motion Sensor – I was more than a little excited.
Unfortunately, upon receiving them, my excitement quickly turned to frustration and disappointment. When (if) you get these items actually set up and working correctly, they do actually work pretty well, for the most part. The problem is, getting them to this state is pretty much as difficult as it could possibly be.
For starters, the app that D-Link tells you in the instructions to use to set up the Smart Plug didn’t work at all, in my case. They specify using the mydlink WiFi Smart Plug app from the Play Store to set up the device, which I initially spent days trying to do, always ending in failure. On my stock Nexus 5, the app would invariably crash at some point in the process, making setting up the device impossible. Attempting to set it up using my old Evo 3D running Cyanogenmod 11 would always result in the process appearing to complete, but then saying “no Smart Plugs found.”
Only after giving up, thinking I had received a faulty unit, and moving on to attempting to set up the Motion Sensor did I finally find a way to set up the Smart Plug. The instructions for setting up the Motion Sensor specify using the mydlink Home app for set up. Luckily, I was also able to use this app to set up the Smart Plug, but I certainly would have had no way of knowing that was possible based on the included instruction booklet.
This is obviously a serious problem. I assume most folks who purchase the D-Link WiFi Smart Plug alone would just return it, thinking they got a defective unit, if their experience is anything like mine. Email correspondence with D-Link finally revealed that the mydlink WiFi Smart Plug app is being phased out in favor of mydlink Home, but the average consumer would have no way of knowing this until D-Link updates the instructions.
Using the mydlink Home app, setup went fairly well (comparatively speaking) for both devices. I was able to get each working individually with little problem. The Motion Sensor would consistently detect motion and report it in the app, and the Smart Plug was able to be turned on and off from the app without issue. Then, I tried to use the Rules section of the app to cause the Motion Sensor to trigger the Smart Plug, and… nothing.
It simply did not work. Finally, after factory resetting and re-setting up both devices, the rule began to work. And again, once it was working, it worked pretty well. The lamp I had plugged into the Smart Plug did indeed turn on pretty much every time I passed the motion sensor, and it turned on pretty quicly at that. That is, until I unplugged one of the devices and moved it to a different outlet. At this point, I had to go through the entire factory resetting and setup process again. Uggh.
And, even once you have this rule working, you’ll find that (other than sending yourself a notification when motion is detected), there is absolutely nothing else you can currently do with these products if you don’t own any other D-Link connected home devices (they also make a security camera). IFTTT integration would have gone a long way toward making this product, if a nightmare to set up, at least much more useful. I would love to be able to have the Smart Plug activate when I pull into my driveway, for instance, or have motion detection notifications sent to my Glass. As it is now, you can pretty much do the one thing, and that’s it.
I wanted to love these devices, I really did. They’re the type of thing I’ve really been looking forward to, and the folks I’ve spoken to at D-Link have been really great as well. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the Smart Plug or Motion Sensor in good conscience, at least not until the setup issues have been resolved (and, again, IFTTT support would help a lot as well). Let’s hope D-Link is willing and able to make these improvements.